Time's A Great Healer

by TeeJay

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Summary:
Can Adam and Joan put aside their animosities and become friends again when Joan spends time in Chicago? Future fic, takes place nine years after s2. Sequel to my story "Old Wounds".

Author's Note:
This is a sequel to my future fic "Old Wounds", which you can find under story ID 2552829. I suggest you read that one first because this one will allude to the whole back story that I set up in "Old Wounds". (This one will be in the third person, however, as opposed to "Old Wounds", which was first person from Adam's POV. But this one will still be a lot of Adam's POV, only in the third person.)

I already wrote in my closing remarks for "Old Wounds" that I had something more in mind to continue what I started, to redeem "Despicable Adam" and perhaps mend Adam and Joan's non-existent relationship to something a little more fluffy. Don't expect too much of that sugar-sweet fluff, though. If you're looking for anything other than Adam/Joan in this story, don't hold your breaths, you're not gonna find much of it. Just a friendly warning. :o)

Thank you, H.J. Glory, Emily, Evil But Friendly Rival, Chrizzy, LostSchizophrenic and the anonymous Grace fan for reviewing "Old Wounds". And most of all: Thank you, GermanJoan, for being my partner in crime, egging me on, feeding me new ideas, sharing our "Joaniverse" and popping my bubble (you know what I mean!). Special thanks for dressing Adam with me for his "date". That was fun! (Anyone wanna see the outfit we picked, e-mail me! LOL)

Music that inspired:
Nickelback – Far Away / Savin' Me / Photograph
K's Choice – Virgin State Of Mind
Jem – 24
Glashaus – Haltet die Welt an
Söhne Mannheims – Zurück zu dir
The Corrs – Long Night
Hoobastank – What Happened To Us
Oasis – Wonderwall
Anastacia – Why'd You Lie To Me
Lifehouse – Sick Cycle Carousel
Anna Nalick – Breathe (2 AM)

And for those who aren't patient enough to read "Old Wounds", here's a quick recap of what happened before and during that story:
Joan eventually forgave Adam for sleeping with Bonnie and they got back together. But things were never really the same, and around high school graduation, Adam was seeing someone else again. Over this, he got into a heated argument with Joan and ended up slapping her in the face. Once. Completely unintentional. Which was more than enough for them to separate. Since Adam was aware of him messing up again big time ("huge time", I should say) and that there was no way he could ever make it up to Joan, he packed his things and didn't waste any time to go to Chicago to go to college there (and after that find a job at a design studio in Chicago).
Years pass and eight years later, Adam returns to Arcadia for the funeral of Helen Girardi (who died unexpectedly in a car crash). He's still not on speaking terms with Joan, hasn't seen or talked to her for years, even. They meet again involuntarily and Joan takes the first step for them to try and put the past behind them and at least talk to each other again.
On the sidelines, I had Grace and Luke break up after graduation. Grace is now a carpenter and together with a guy named Tom, whom she might marry in the not too distant future. Kevin and Lily are still together and, well, Helen died. (Sorry, but I felt like writing something controversial at the time.) Oh, and Grace, Tom, Joan, Kevin & Lily and Carl Rove still live in Arcadia. Adam obviously lives in Chicago now, and at that point I hadn't decided where Luke now lives or what he does, but definitely something in science (duh!). I hinted at the fact that Joan works with children (and their parents). You'll find out more about that in this story. Now go and read (and please review afterwards).

Also, I designed a cover image for this story that I unfortunately can't post at fanfiction-net. But if you wanna see it anyway, have a look here: www.wormhole.de/fanfic/TimesAGreatHealer.jpg
I gave both Adam and Joan different hair styles in an attempt to make them look older. Don't know if I succeeded. Judge for yourselves.

Disclaimer:
These characters and settings are not mine. Nor am I claiming they are. They are property of CBS, Barbara Hall Productions, Sony or whoever else they might belong to. I'm not making any money out of this, although I wish I was.

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The numbers scribbled on the hurriedly torn off piece of an airline information brochure stared up at Adam from the paper, urging him to dial them already. He idly turned the cordless phone in his hand, his fingers hovering over the buttons. Should he dial them? What would she say? Didn't he and Joan agree that they wanted to start talking again? Then why was it so hard to take the first step?

He jumped as the phone suddenly rang in his hand so that he almost dropped it. Something that might have proved fatal to its plastic cover when it would have collided with the wood-colored laminated flooring. After he recovered, he quickly hit the 'answer' button.

"Hello?"

There was silence at the other end for a few seconds. "Hello?" he asked again. Probably some kids playing a prank, or some pervert wanting to annoy people.

"Adam?"

He had to swallow because... it was her voice, Joan's. The very person he had just been about to call—or gathering the courage to, at any rate. How was that for telepathy?

"Yeah," Adam croaked, his throat suddenly dry. He quickly cleared it. "Joan?"

"Yes, it's me." He could almost hear her smile at the other end. "Is this a bad time?"

"No, no. Not at all," he quickly denied. In fact, the timing couldn't be any less bad.

"Listen," Joan started. "I have a conference in Chicago in two weeks. And I thought..." She paused, but Adam already knew what she was implying. "I thought maybe we could meet up. I mean, if you want to." She let the sentence hang in the air, and Adam knew it was supposed to be a question for him to answer.

He was torn between rapid ecstasy at the prospect, or fast denial. But then he remembered their goodbye at the airport and her question of whether she could ever become Jane again. He wanted her to be Jane again, he really did. And then he didn't, because he was afraid of the implications.

He knew that he was pondering this for too long in silence when Joan said his name. "Adam?"

"Sorry," he quickly apologized. "Yes, meeting up would be nice," he finally said.

"Great," Joan agreed.

There was a bit of an awkward silence. Adam knew that if they were having this conversation face to face, she would be studying his face very closely now. More out of the necessity to interrupt the quietness, he asked, "So, how are you?"

He wanted to rip his tongue out immediately after these words had left it. It had been barely four weeks since they buried her mother. How did he think she was? He knew that he couldn't stop thinking about his mother for months after her suicide, couldn't stop seeing and hearing her in everything around him for a very long time.

He could sense that she didn't know what to say, unsure about whether to be honest or not. He wanted to deliver her from her hesitation, so he quietly, sympathetically said, "Sorry, I shouldn't have asked you that. I guess it must still be hard."

If anything, the situation felt much more awkward now. Was Joan fighting tears at the other end? It would have seemed like a very Joan thing to do. She had never been afraid to let her feelings show, and that was a part of what Adam had loved about her. "Joan, I'm sorry, you probably don't want to talk about it all over again, least of all with me."

"No, Adam," she interrupted him, her voice more steady than Adam thought it would have been. "If there's anyone to understand what this feels like, it's you."

He sat down on the couch with the receiver pressed to his ear. He remembered all too well what it had been like. And even though it had been over a decade, it still hurt very faintly when he thought about it. You just learn not to think about it, he realized. "I just didn't wish for anyone else to have to go through all that," he told her. "It's like you're always waiting for something to ease the pain. You know, it gets better after a while." He knew it was a half-lie, but it was the only thing he could say to comfort her.

"Yeah, I guess." Her voice sounded strained and it made him want to utter a million meaningful words that could make it all better, that could lift the burden from her shoulders. But he knew that he had none, least of all any that could make any difference when they were hundreds of miles apart, speaking on the telephone. "Joan, I..." he continued, sighing in frustration. "I wish there was something I could do."

"Yeah, me too," she agreed quietly. In an attempt to steer the conversation into a more uplifting direction, she added, "Okay, so... The conference... I'm gonna be at the conference from March 8th to 10th. I guess I'll be pretty busy then, but I have Saturday and Sunday off before I go back on Sunday evening. How about we meet on Saturday? That's the 11th. Would that be okay?"

"Hang on, let me check my calendar," he verbally beckoned her to wait. Adam quickly walked over the desk and rummaged around for his PDA. He inwardly cursed himself for not having kept the desk a little tidier. "Damn," he swore under his breath when he couldn't find it.

"You okay?" Joan asked.

"Yeah," he quickly assured her. "It's just that I can't find my damn PDA. I know we had a couple of meetings planned for March and... Ah, got it!" He grabbed the PDA from under a stack of magazines. "Okay, let me see..." He accessed the Organizer function of the nifty electronic device that told him what his schedule for the next weeks looked like. "The 11th should be fine. What time?"

"I don't know. Maybe we could meet up for lunch? Say around 1 PM?"

"Sounds good. Have you been to Chicago before?" He was trying to think up a good place to meet.

"No. Well, except for a stop-over at the airport on my way to Toronto, but I never left the airport."

"Do you know where you will be staying?" A couple of landmark spots downtown came to mind as a good meeting point, but maybe it would be easier if he just picked her up at the hotel.

"Yeah, the Hyatt Regency Downtown. The conference will be there as well."

Adam had to suppress the urge to whistle. "Wow, fancy place."

Joan laughed. "Well, yeah, they really give us a treat every once in a while. Gotta throw the dog a bone."

"Okay, I'll come and get you," Adam decided. He knew the place. Not from a personal stay, but he had passed the impressive skyscraper on his way to work more times than he could count. "Just wait in the lobby around 1 PM. Or call me if there's a change of plans."

"Sounds great." Her voice was more uplifting, more enthusiastic now. Then it got a tad impatient. "Look, I gotta go. Kevin's got this thing he wants me to be at and... well... I'll see you in two weeks, right?"

"Sure," Adam replied. "See you then."

"Yeah. Bye," Joan saw him off.

"Bye."

There was a click at the other end and Adam listened to the monotonous busy signal for another few seconds before he lowered the receiver from his ear. He would be seeing Joan again, that would make it three times in just as many months. Who would have thought that that would ever happen, after all they had been through?

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"And the background in this one needs to be tuned down a little, so that the product catches your eye at the first glance."

Adam's boss animatedly pointed out the background area of the soda pop advert image with a laser pointer on the screen where the image was being projected from a laptop by a video projector.

"Other than that, I think we're on the right track here, people. I want everyone here first thing on Monday, focusing on making this one work, so we can meet the Tuesday deadline. Any objections, questions?"

He looked around at his employees, who were assembled in the meeting room around a U-shaped set of tables. Adam fidgeted in his chair, looking at his watch. A quarter to one. He was supposed to pick Joan up at one at the Hyatt. Why did his boss have to schedule the darned meeting today? Why did customers always put these impossible deadlines onto them? Sometimes he hated the demands of his occupation, today especially. He was gonna be late if his boss dragged this out any longer.

He looked at his colleagues, silently praying no one would ask any questions or utter any remarks. But everyone seemed as intent on leaving as Adam himself because no one spoke up. Adam breathed a silent sigh of relief when his boss moved to the laptop and shut down the presentation and equipment. "See you here bright and early on Monday, everyone," he dismissed his employees.

Adam quickly gathered his pen and writing pad, on which he had drawn some doodles among the notes during the meeting, rushing out of the room.

"Rove, you're in quite a hurry," his colleague Damian teased him.

"Yeah, and what's with the cologne?" Charlene, his only female colleague asked him, giving him a quizzical look as Adam passed her.

Adam stopped and turned around. "Is it too much?" he asked anxiously.

Charlene had to laugh. "No," she chuckled. "It's just fine." She raised her eyebrow and looked at Damian, smiling a knowing smile. "Rove's got a date, huh?"

"Oh, shut up," Adam told the two of them. "You're worse than a pack of frat boys." Without further ado, he went to his cubicle, put down the pad and pen and grabbed his coat and scarf, hurrying outside. Good thing the Hyatt wasn't far.

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